Child Benefit: EU Nationals

Treasury written question – answered on 14th May 2014.

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Photo of Mark Reckless Mark Reckless Conservative, Rochester and Strood

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate by country of residence of the child he has made of the number of migrants residing in the UK who claimed benefits on behalf of children living abroad during 2013.

Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Chair, Home Affairs Committee

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many non-UK EEA nationals had dependants eligible to receive child benefit where the dependant is (a) in the UK and (b) outside the UK on 1 January 2014; and how much has been paid in such a fashion in each of the last three years;

Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Conservative, Romford

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer

(1) how many citizens of other EU member states currently living in the UK receive child benefit;

(2) how many migrants from EU countries living in the UK receive child benefit.

Photo of Nicky Morgan Nicky Morgan Minister for Women, The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

HMRC are not able to provide the information in the manner requested. HMRC do not record the nationality of the claimant receiving child benefit for children living in another member state.

Published child benefit statistics provide annual estimates of the number of families and children claiming. The latest available (August 2012) show that there were 7.92 million families, responsible for 13.77 million children and qualifying young people receiving child benefit.

The main purpose of child benefit is to support families in the UK. Consequently, the rules generally do not provide for them to be paid in respect of children who live abroad.

Nevertheless, child benefit is a family benefit under EC Regulation 883/2004. This regulation protects the social security rights of nationals of all member states of the European economic area, including the UK, and Switzerland when they exercise their rights of free movement under EU law.

HMRC holds information on the number of child benefit awards under EC Regulation 883/2004. As at 31 December 2013, there were 20,400 ongoing child benefit awards under the EC regulation in respect of 34.268 children living in another member state.

This is a fall of 3,682 (15.3%) awards in respect of 5,903 (14.7%) fewer children since 31 December 2012.

The breakdown by member state is as follows:

Child benefit
Country of residence of children Number of awards Number of children
Austria 23 37
Belgium 75 140
Bulgaria 186 245
Croatia 15 15
Cyprus 39 61
Czech Republic 124 203
Denmark 13 23
Estonia 45 65
Finland 12 23
France 789 1,429
Germany 283 495
Greece 44 69
Hungary 136 196
Iceland 15 15
Italy 156 273
Latvia 797 1,091
Liechtenstein 0 0
Lithuania 1,215 1,712
Luxembourg 7 14
Malta 15 22
Norway 30 61
Poland 13,174 22,093
Portugal 202 309
Republic of Ireland 1,231 2,505
Romania 230 392
Slovakia 692 1,232
Slovenia 11 21
Spain 600 1,019
Sweden 49 95
Switzerland 77 150
The Netherlands 142 288
Totals 20,400 34,268
1 We have withheld the number where it is fewer than 5, as there is risk that the information could be attributed to an identifiable person, which would prejudice their right to privacy and would therefore be a breach of Principle 1 of the Data Protection Act.

As announced in the 2014 Budget, to prevent EEA migrants claiming benefits they are not entitled to, the Government will increase compliance checks to establish whether EEA migrants meet the entitlement conditions to receive child benefit.

Under domestic law, in order to claim child benefit EEA migrants must be present in the UK, ordinarily resident and have a right to reside in the UK and their children must live in the UK.

The recent changes to migrants’ access to benefits announced by the Government sends a strong message that the UK benefit system is not open to abuse, as well as deterring those who may seek residence in the UK primarily to claim benefits.

Strengthening compliance checks will help prevent EEA migrants from claiming, and continuing to claim, benefits they are not entitled to. Checks will be applied to both new claims and existing awards.

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